People often tell me my kids sound like little adults. Not only do they have huge vocabularies, they're assertive, independent, and fairly confident. Before you think I'm bragging, please know that it's not always fun. The trouble with having kids who know a lot, is that they can be "know-it-alls," never hesitating to tell you you're wrong. You, too, can have kids who tell you off on a daily basis. The secret? I've always been the kind of mom who talks to her kid like an adult, mostly because I didn't know any better.
All joking aside, I have learned that when you offer kids respect, they learn to trust you and what you say. That's a huge deal for me. My kids deserve to be treated like human beings and, in return, I have found that it's easier to interact with kids who understand the "why" behind my decisions, not just "because I said so."
As a bonus, it's easier to talk to my kids like they are adults. I don't have to lie, make stuff up, come up with bizarre answers, or insult their intelligence. If I don't know the answer, I say, "I don't know, but I will find out." If I don't think they are emotionally or intellectually ready for a topic, I provide information that's truthful, but age-appropriate, because, they can learn about things like politics, sex, and war as they grow. It doesn't have to be all at once. If I mess up (and I do, a lot), I apologize.
TBH, I often respond to subjective questions with, "What do you think?" not just because I don't want to answer their question about whether God, Santa, or the Tooth Fairy is real, but because I want to encourage critical thinking. If I've learned one thing in my almost eight years of parenting, it's that taking the path of least resistance isn't necessary lazy, it's smart. And for me, talking to my kids like adults is way easier than coddling them, being condescending, or expecting them to obey because "I said so."
My Kids Deserve Respect
My kids deserve respect, because they are freaking human beings. I don't want my kids to grow up thinking they have to behave a certain way out of fear or blind obedience. Rather, I want them to do the right thing, because it's the right thing. The only way you can teach your kids that is to model it for them.
My Kids Are Confident
My kids are, for the most part, pretty confident. It can be pretty annoying, but it's also reassuring. I know they wouldn't challenge me and the things I say if they didn't feel safe with me and trust that I love them no matter what, even when they are being incorrigible.
My Kids Believe What I Say
When you are honest with kids, they learn to trust you. It's that simple.
My Kids Are Authentic
What you see is what you get. My kids don't hide who they are, what they like, and are not afraid to tell you off when you want them to do something they don't want to do, like wear actual clothes to preschool. It's infuriating at times, but is going to be so important as they grow into badass, empowered adults.
My Kids Expect A Lot From Me
When you give a lot, your kids expect a lot. In my opinion, that's awesome.
My Kids Are Independent
Even though I spend a lot of time talking with my kids about everything — from their days, their dreams, and their fears to the world, the future and my own life — they aren't attached to me at the hip (well the baby is, but that's different). By engaging with my kids like adults, they've become pretty independent. Who knew?
My Kids Have Huge Vocabularies
Almost every time my kids meet someone new they toss out a million dollar word. I'm not gonna lie, it makes me feel great.
My Kids Have Their Own Interests
As much as I would love for my kids to love the things I love, I also recognize the importance of letting them discover who they are and do their own thing.
That is, I want them to do their own thing when it doesn't involve them refusing to wear the clothes I picked out or the food I prepared, because that annoys the heck out of me.
My Kids Learn And Develop At Their Own Pace
Each one of my kids and stepkids has areas where they excel and areas where they face challenges, and they learn and develop at different paces. That's not only "normal," it's perfectly OK. I try hard not to compare them with each other and to set appropriate expectations for them and myself.
My Kids Are Unique Individuals, Not Miniature Versions Of Me
This was one of the hardest things for me to learn. My kids are not like me, and that's OK. It's actually pretty darn amazing. While I love to spend time with my kids doing things I love, they've helped me expand my own horizons by sharing their interests with me.